Wednesday, November 13, 2013

The Squirrel Story

After a fun and action-packed week in Rhode Island we flew back to Seattle where we had just a couple of days to get errands done, repack, and jump on a plane for Tucson. We had a 5:30 flight on Sunday morning. By the time we got to Tucson we were dragging and just wanted to get home to our boat. But, we still had a wait of several hours for our bus and then an 8 hour bus ride ahead of us. All I could think of was a nap. When our bus finally arrived I told the driver that we needed to stop at the border for tourist permits (visas). He said that we did not need the permits for our destination. I insisted that we did need them so he called over another bus official who said that we could get them here in Guaymas, and the bus would not be stopping at the border. With no other option and too tired to argue, we chose to believe that the bus driver knew what he was talking about.

It was a busy week and somehow we totally forgot that we didn’t have our permits to be in Mexico. Planning to leave Guaymas on Friday, we reserved seats on the Copper Canyon tourist train from Los Mochis, bought our bus tickets and made a hotel reservation for our first night. Then, on Thursday, a squirrel decided to visit the boat. We had left the hatch open with the fly screen in. While he was exploring on deck he stepped onto the screen and fell into the main cabin. He snacked on a tomato leaving seeds and peels everywhere and then proceeded to explore all corners of the boat leaving droppings in every room including on our bed. We spent hours emptying every closet, drawer and cupboard trying to find where he might be hiding and eventually we went to sleep wishfully hoping that he might already have left the same way he came in.

Somehow in the middle of the squirrel hunt it suddenly popped into my head that we were without tourist permits and couldn’t travel to another state until we had them. So, first thing the next morning we asked the marina manager for the address of the Migracion. She said that yes we could get the permits in Guaymas, but we would be heavily fined and would not receive the permits for 2 weeks. Better to go back to the border she said. So off we went to find a rental car to drive 4 or 5 hours back to the border for tourist permits. By that time we knew the squirrel was still onboard. Mike had seen him hiding behind the navigation/electrical panel where he couldn’t be reached. AND, now some of our cabin lights weren’t working. Until we caught the squirrel we wouldn’t be able to take our Copper Canyon trip even with the proper travel papers. So we bought 3 rat traps and set them out while we were gone.

A scene from the squirrel hunt.
With such a late start we didn’t get to the border until after dark. Heeding the warnings against driving the Mexican roads at night, we stayed in a hotel and returned to the boat on Saturday morning. None of the traps had been tripped. By this time we had lost the money on our bus tickets and non-refundable hotel reservations. All we could do was take things one step at a time and the first step had to be catching the squirrel. So Mike started taking the boat apart, removing headliners, cupboards, and the built-in medicine chest.

The scene of my squirrel meeting
There wasn’t much that I could do to help so I started cleaning all the corners and crevices that were now exposed. At one point while I was scrubbing a wall in the head (bathroom), the squirrel came running in my direction. Looking for an escape route, he hung upside down just inches from my face. I screamed. He screamed (yes, squirrels scream). And we both ran off in opposite directions.

Eventually I heard Mike talking gently to the squirrel and the squirrel chattering back. The squirrel jumped onto Mike’s feet where Mike was able to throw a towel over him, lift him through the hatch and release him onto the deck. I was on deck watching as the poor little guy shook his head a few times, jumped off the boat and scampered away. I’m glad that he avoided the traps and is now safely at home with his family. Finally we can go to the Copper Canyon.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Family Week With The Crew Of S/Y Marie

The ladies of Family Week (me on far right)

Spending time in Rhode Island with the crew of S/Y Marie was an experience that I will always treasure. Each and every member of the crew is delightful - bright, intelligent, personable, and interesting. They were so warm and welcoming that I felt like royalty.

The high point of the week was seeing S/Y Marie, a 180’ ketch. She is without question the most beautiful boat that either of us has ever seen. And, not because she is big and expensive, but because she is a true sailing yacht,  custom-built for a sailor and with an elegant interior. Sleek and stylish, Marie is truly in a class by herself.

Restored interior in one of the antique yachts

Captain Jim knew that Mike would enjoy theHerreshoff Marine Museum so a trip to Bristol was one of our first activities. I’m not all that interested in the history of sailing or the America’s Cup, but I really did enjoy seeing the antique yachts in their collection. It was the first of many fun excursions we would enjoy. 


Newport is home to wonderful restaurants, interesting shops, and several vintage clothing stores which I especially liked visiting. Walking through the streets it seemed that there was a surprise around every corner, like this Columbus Day Parade.

View from Castle Hill

Other highlights of Family Week were: a luncheon at the Castle Hill Inn, dinner at a Japanese steak house, and an evening at the Firehouse Improv Comedy Club. It was an entire day of great food and entertainment in the company of Marie’s crew and family, some of the most interesting and fun-loving people I have ever met.

Tami and Mike at Wellfleet Oyster Fest
On the weekend, we were joined by my daughter, Danielle, who flew in from Seattle. We drove to Cape Cod twice, visiting with my daughter Stephanie and spending a few hours at Oyster Fest in Wellfleet. It was, all in all a most memorable week.

Thank you, Tami, Jim, Gioia, Tom, Ross and Emma! Each of you contributed to our wonderful experience and we enjoyed every moment with you. Your warmth and hospitality  made us feel like honored guests and we will never forget you.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Another Vacation From Our Permanent Vacation

Mike and Tami on S/Y Marie

We have had so many memorable experiences in the past couple of months that I hardly know where to begin. I’d like to begin in the middle, with the squirrel story, but then where would I go from there? So I guess I’ll begin where I left off.
At the beginning of October we got an invitation from Mike’s daughter, Tami, to visit her in Newport, Rhode Island. 
Tami is a professional chef who for the past several years has been working on privately owned yachts. Her current yacht was docked in Newport and some of the crew members’ families came to visit. They called it “family week”.
Of course we jumped at the opportunity for another adventure but it was a scramble to get ready. We already had planned to drive my car back to the States but not for several more weeks. Facing a tight schedule to get to Rhode Island for family week we kicked into high gear and had the boat secured and the car packed for departure in less than 24 hours.
Ever since I caught the travel bug (thanks, Mom) I keep my passport close and bragged that I could be packed and ready to travel anywhere in 15 minutes. Not true! I ended up in Newport with a toothbrush but no toothpaste, 5 pairs of shoes but no socks, and 3 bras but no underpants. Clearly I still have a lot to learn.
Things went a little sideways when we left Mexico. We knew that our tourist permits (visas) would expire while we were gone so we needed to surrender them and officially check out of the country. Seeing the immigration office on our left with no obvious entry point, I foolishly told Mike that there must be a u-turn ahead. Before we knew it, we had passed through customs and had to officially re-enter Mexico to get back to the immigration office. We were able to make a u-turn just past customs, physically never having left Mexico, but officially re-entering the country and this time we got a red light. The customs agent both understood and believed our story and, after a quick inspection of our car and contents, directed us back to immigration.

With a deadline to meet, we didn’t have a lot of time to spare but we did make two detours to visit spots that had long been on my bucket list. Both Bisbee, Arizona and the Valley of Fire in Nevada had been highly recommended by my daughter, Danielle. Bisbee is a fun and friendly little town and we stayed in a historical hotel that is said to be haunted. Sadly we didn't see any ghosts while we were there. We also drove through Tombstone which is just a dusty cow town with a 2-lane highway running through it. We didn't stop.

Leaving my car in Seattle we flew to Boston. This trip was happening so fast that we were making plans a day at a time and hadn’t reserved a rental car. To my surprise and dismay, on Columbus Day weekend there was not a car to be found. I know how to get around Boston pretty well so I suggested that we jump on the Silver Line to South Station and catch the Peter Pan bus to Newport. Faced with standing for an hour and a half in a line behind 30 other people waiting to catch the same bus, we opted for Tami to drive up and get us. There was already a lot of crowding and pushing in that line and neither Mike nor I felt up to the battle. We felt both joy and relief when Tami and Captain Jim pulled up to South Station.Their warm welcome and hospitality were just a hint of the good times ahead of us in Newport with the crew of S/Y Marie.